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Data Darbar blast likely reaction to Masood Azhar's UN listing: Sources

File photo of JeM chief Masood Azhar. Photograph:( AFP )

WION New Delhi, Delhi, India May 17, 2019, 09.20 PM (IST) Written By: Anas Mallick

Pakistan's oldest and one of the most popular Sufi shrine, Data Darbar was struck by a suicide blast recently in which at least 10 people were killed and 24 were injured.

The blast occurred near the entrance gate for female visitors to the 11th-century Data Darbar shrine, one of the largest Sufi shrines in South Asia, as the country marked the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.

The responsibility of the blast was claimed by Pakistani Taliban group in an email. 

Though, the investigation into the attack is underway but Ashfaq Khan, deputy inspector general of police operations in Lahore in the initial probe had said that police was the prime target.

However, reports have suggested that the blast was likely a direct reaction to the Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) chief Masood Azhar's listing as a 'global terrorist' by the United Nations Security Council which had happened a week prior to the blast.

According to a report, Abu Wali Khursanai, the founder of Hizbul Ahrar, a faction of Pakistan Taliban who claimed responsibility for the attack, and Masood Azhar have been together in Harkat ul-Mujahideen, a Pakistan based terrorist group, in Afghanistan. Hizbul Ahrar group was formed in Nangarhar province of Afghanistan in 2011. 

Sources also say that Hizbul Ahrar does not have the capacity or infrastructure to carry out an attack in the province of Punjab.

Jaish-e-Mohammed group was formed from the group Harkat ul-Mujahideen.

According to the sources, Pakistan is currently in the process of disbanding and arresting any other terror-linked elements, those particularly connected with terror icons such as Masood Azhar and others.

Once they will be completely disbanded and neutralised, only then a move to arrest or detain Azhar would be made so that the chances of a public backlash or a direct public impact would be lesser, the sources added.

Masood Azhar, head of the Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM), was designated a ‘global terrorist’ by the UN Security Council 1267 Sanction Committee on May 1, 2019.
 

Story highlights

Pakistan's oldest and one of the most popular Sufi shrine, Data Darbar was struck by a suicide blast recently in which at least 10 people were killed and 24 were injured.